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‘Salut, Céline here once again and I’m going to tell you all about WRC Team MINI Portugal’s day at Rallye de France. Wow, it was long day both on and off the stages.

‘After 192.80km of tricky and competitive special stages – including the massive 43.45km Pays d’Ormont tests run twice – both Atko and Paulo drove their MINIs safely back to the Service Park here in Strasbourg.

‘It was a eventful day, a lot happened and Atko is up to 9th place which is great! He knew the long stage was going to be tough and that today the task wasn’t easy also because once again weather conditions were unpredictable but even so he picked up the pace stage-on-stage! He tried a slightly different set-up solution this morning then nuanced it again at midday service which seemed to work well and his feeling is continually improving with his MINI.

‘Also – I just heard that Atko will have one of the live cameras in his MINI tomorrow. Very exciting! I can’t wait to see all the action in the Service Park from the live feed screen exactly next to our catering tent. Romain and I have the best seats in the house!

‘Paulo had a small issue with his gearshift this afternoon, but carried out a super quick repair in the road section to get through the last two stages. Now the problem will easily be solved by the boys during Flexi Service. Otherwise he’s getting more and more confident on Tarmac and he’s getting to know how the MINI reacts on this surface. He’s really eager to finish the rally tomorrow and chalk up one more WRC finish and a huge amount of experience.

‘As I mentioned before, I love my job and thanks to it I had an awesome opportunity last year: going on a passenger ride in a WRC car with a top WRC driver. Boy, it was awesome! It was something unique, a feeling I had never experienced before – I would say that impressive is the best word to describe it. You cannot imagine when you’re outside, you know the cars go fast but when you’re inside one it’s a completely different point-of-view. The speed is unbelievable and you can really feel the adrenaline flowing through your body. I actually did it on a Tarmac event so I can say I know a little of how it feels to be out on the stages here at Rallye de France.

‘As far as hospitality operations are concerned our day started very early – we normally arrive one hour before the team to prepare breakfast for everyone and to start planning our day in the kitchen in the most efficient way possible. The boys (and girls) turned up at around 7am this morning starving and ready to ‘refuel’ before first service. Today we treated them with something very French: ‘pain au chocolat’ and ‘croissants’ which everyone seemed to enjoy very much!

‘Drivers’ breakfasts are very basic – Atko likes eggs on toast while Paulo normally only eats a banana and his cold chocolate milk, I guess he likes to stay light before tackling the stages. What they all agree on is coffee: nobody seems to be able to start the day without a nice expresso! 🙂

‘This is the first year have been working in a team as until now I have been on projects involving various teams. I have to say that I’m enjoying the experience so far. You create stronger bonds with the people you work with, you get to know what they like and what you should do to meet their needs and expectations. Here at WRC Team MINI Portugal it’s very cosmopolitan, so it’s not always easy to please everybody with the food we cook but also sometimes it’s difficult to understand each other. You might think this would make life harder, but actually it often helps breakdown barriers and leads to hilarious moments as we try to get our point across! 🙂

‘The boys are still working on the cars and as soon as they’ve finished they’ll attack the feast Romain’s prepared for them (with a little sugary indulgence to follow – my culinary contribution, a nice ‘flan pâtissier’ and a chocolate cake – who doesn’t love chocolate? I bet they’re starving by now! 🙂 It’s nice to see everybody sitting together at dinner talking, laughing and relaxing after a big day.

‘Tomorrow it will be my last column and I have to admit I will miss writing them but there’s one more day of competition to go so I’ll be back for more tomorrow!

‘Bonne soirée,

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